Katie Couric is sharing her thoughts about former “Today” co-host Matt Lauer. And, well, it’s complicated.
The two journalists co-anchored the morning show — no, not “The Morning Show,” no matter the resonance in story lines — from 1997 to 2006. In her upcoming memoir, “Going There,” she writes about what she knew, when she knew it and how long it took her to process what happened when he was fired abruptly in November 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Couric said she texted Lauer after hearing the news.
“I am crushed. I love you and care about you deeply. I am here. Please let me know if you want to talk. There will be better days ahead,” she wrote, according to the Daily Mail, which obtained a galley of the book, due out Oct. 26. Lauer responded with a blowing-kisses emoji, according to Couric.
She said it felt “heartless to abandon him, someone who’d been by my side, literally, for so many years.”
But she also said she had heard “the whispers” about Lauer’s dalliances.
She mentioned a phone call from his wife to the control room seeking the phone number of a woman he was allegedly having sex with, and a wayward email mistakenly sent to a “Today” producer suggesting she “spread butter on her thighs” and “wear that skirt that came off so easily.” Turns out the producer had the same last name as a production assistant Lauer was having an affair with.
Couric said her former co-anchor “ultimately turned out to be two very different people, in terms of my relationship with him versus some of the other things that were going on.” She also noted that the culture was different when they were working together, writing, “The general rule at that time was: it’s none of your business.”
In 2018, Couric told People magazine that the Lauer situation had “been very painful” for her.
“The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the ‘Today’ show experienced this kind of treatment,” she said. “I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left.”
Lauer was later accused of an offense far worse than having an affair: In Ronan Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill,” former NBC News staffer Brooke Nevils described being raped by Lauer during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
In a Mediaite essay, Lauer disputed that description of events.
“At no time did Brooke Nevils ever use the words ‘assault’ or ‘rape’ in regards to any accusation against me while filing her complaint with NBC in November of 2017,” he wrote. “That has been confirmed publicly. NBC never suggested I was being accused of such an offense when I met with their attorney on Nov. 28 of that same year. They have also confirmed that publicly.”
He then criticized Farrow’s work, saying the writer “was hardly an unbiased journalist when it came to anything to do with NBC,” which had canceled Farrow’s show and reportedly spiked a story about Harvey Weinstein, which was later taken to the New Yorker.
Lauer was once the highest-paid anchor in morning TV, making $25 million a year. He was also married to Annette Roque, who divorced him amid the scandal.